New York — If the month of June seems like "documentary dumping" time, maybe it is because the three commercial networks arem actually unloading documentaries in the period right after the May "sweeps" (when local audience numbers are carefully measured for setting future advertising rates).
Thus, fine documentaries have been marking time on the shelves together with delayed specials, failed pilots, and inexpensive repeats, just awaiting a period when the network feels it can "sacrifice" time to public service rather than public numbers.
Don't complain, though. If you can bear the almost nonstop flow of documentaries, it is one of the best viewing periods for those sated with the networks' mindless attempts at entertainment. But you must be willing to sit back and let the news departments show how good they can be when they are unleashed.
As of this moment, there are several excellent documentaries actually scheduled, with others waiting in the wings for time slots. All the specific information as to dates and times in this article are subject to change so, it is a good idea to check local listings in all cases. CBS
June 5, "Is This Any Way To Nominate A President?" Walter Cronkite reporting, late night.
June 14, "CBS Report: Return of the CIA," produced by Judy Crichton.
June 28, "Sadat's Eternal Egypt," Walter Cronkite reporting.
CBS Reports exective director howard Stringer has other interessing specials awaiting air time as well. NBS
June 6, "NBC Report: Is There A Better Way?," (on primaries), Douglas Kiker reporting.
June 24, "NBC White Paper: If Japan Can, Why Can't We?" (on productivity), produced by Reuven Frank with Lloyd Dobrin reporting. ABC
June 12, "ABC Closeup: To Die For Ireland" produced by Alan and Susan Raymond.
Another ABC Closeup in the works is a controversial one tentatively titled "Television and Politics" with Richard Reeves reporting. Now scheduled for July 11, it may very well be moved up. Other controversial Closeup documentaries in the works will be scheduled by Closeup executive Pam Hill as soon as they are completed and air time can be extracted from ABC news executives in conjunction with the advertising staffs.
So, together with PBS, all-network coverage of the primaries and presidential campaign, plus the new Turner Cable News Network (which will be doing documentaries as well as alternate news service, June could turn out to be a festival of news and documentaries. Maybe even worth rolling the TV set out of its summer habitat in the closet with the quilt and longjohns.